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Monday, November 30, 2009

Agribusiness going on Trial?

Hi guys I received this email today and thought it VERY appropriate to add the ole' blog archives.

If you are compelled I highly recommend reading on, and if inspired please take the time to take action and write.

Chances like these are rare and though they are a step in the right direction the fight for good food on our tables is far from over.



This is the biggest opening in 30 years. The Department of Justice is on a fact finding mission about agribusiness and they need to hear from us!

Are you concerned about where your food comes from? Do you care about the working conditions of farmers and food workers? Is it inconvenient to get to the store? Do you have access to fresh produce in your neighborhood? Are you concerned about meat and poultry packing conditions that threaten your health and that of the workers? Are you worried that corporate giants like Monsanto control a large share of our seed supply?

The U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Agriculture are seeking our comments on consolidation in the food system by December 31, 2009. We have just five weeks to tell them what's wrong in our food system and make suggestions for how to fix it.

Please take the time to e-mail your comments to agriculturalworkshops@usdoj.gov.
Or you can submit two paper copies of your comments to Legal Policy Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 450 5th Street, NW, Suite 11700, Washington, D.C. 20001. All comments received will be publicly posted.

Please forward this e-mail to friends who may also like to submit comments. Thank you.

Five workshops will be held in 2010 in Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Washington, D.C. and Wisconsin. But the best way to get your concerns heard is to submit your written comments.

For specifics about the workshops:http://www.justice.gov/atr/public/workshops/ag2010/index.htm#overview

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An Article of a Fallen Soldier

Hi guys, it is with a heavy heart I am posting this article. It was taken from USA Today and goes into detailed account surrounding how Patrick McCaffrey was murdered in Iraq. He is the son of our Gold Star Mother and inspiration behind the Valley Forge Village.

By Scott Lindlaw, Associated Press
TRACY, Calif. — He'd trained as a combat lifesaver. Now Spc. Patrick McCaffrey lay gravely wounded, his blood pooling on a street in Balad, Iraq.

Eight bullets had found flesh between the heavy body-armor plates meant to protect the California National Guardsman's torso. They sliced into his lungs, liver and other organs and struck two vital arteries, including his aorta.

Lt. Andre Tyson sprawled next to him, a round having pierced his forehead. He was gasping for breath.

Despite medics' frantic efforts, McCaffrey, 34, and Tyson, 33, soon died. But with their deaths a strange subplot in the Iraq war was born — a legal case still quietly unfolding today, as the U.S. Army pursues a murder trial.

McCaffrey and Tyson were slain by enemies posing as "friendly" Iraqi national guardsmen, according to Army investigators. The Iraqis patrolled alongside the Californians, then betrayed them when they turned their backs, investigators say.

While the notion of "murder" in a war zone may be counterintuitive, the slayings of McCaffrey and Tyson were so brazen and brutal that the U.S. military has pursued a murder trial for almost as long as it has waged the war itself.

One suspect has been in custody since July 2005. But putting him on trial has thus far proven impossible amid the bloody chaos of Iraq. Prosecutors have been hampered by murky Iraqi allegiances, conflicting stories, inconclusive fingerprint evidence, and witnesses who have gone missing.

Operation Deliberate Action

It was the spring of 2004, just after the Abu Ghraib prison scandal ignited outrage in the West and across the Arab world. Tensions between the Iraqis and Americans were running high.

"We are constantly under attack by these people," McCaffrey, a father of two, wrote his mother in a May 16, 2004, e-mail. "I love the little kids though ... they remind me of my own, and I always give them food and water even though we are not supposed to."

Five weeks later, McCaffrey and the other soldiers of A Company, 579th Engineer Battalion, linked up with a unit from the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, or ICDC. Created by the United States, the ICDC was the country's main internal security force, meant to battle insurgents.

A supply hub known as Logistical Support Area Anaconda, 85 miles north of Baghdad, had been peppered with rocket and mortar fire for days, including an attack that killed two Americans and wounded 25.

Those attacks lent fresh urgency to the joint unit's hunt on June 22, 2004, for weapons stashed in villages, farmlands and woods.

"We're walking through brush neck high, trying to keep our footing, and hoping our next step doesn't land us falling in a canal," Tyson's driver, Spc. Chris Murphy, said later in a sworn statement to investigators. "'It's like Vietnam,' is the running joke."

Of the Iraqi troops being trained by Americans, he added: "I've heard on the news that they're more than ready to take over after we've left. But from what I've seen, they couldn't be more wrong."

Some of the territory the Guardsmen patrolled that day as part of "Operation Deliberate Action" was lush and ablaze with sunflowers. But the summer sun was infernal, and McCaffrey administered first aid to several soldiers for heat exhaustion.

"Patrick would burn the candle at both ends to get the job done," his father, Bob McCaffrey, would say later.

Patrick McCaffrey, who managed two auto-body shops in Palo Alto while he and wife Silvia raised two young children, had told his family that "something happened to me" on Sept. 11, 2001; the terror attacks summoned him to a new duty. In his journal, he wrote of waking up that night, seeing his sleeping wife holding their daughter in her arms, and thinking of "those fathers and mothers that were taken from their children (who) will never be able to hold and kiss their children again."

A month later, he was sworn in as a member of the California National Guard. Protecting the homeland was his aim, not shipping overseas — and when the call came he didn't want to leave. But, his father said, "he had signed up and given his word, and he always kept his word."

By 2004 he was fighting in Iraq, and aching for his family.

"I have sent a box home, and it has T-shirts for you, dad and Silvia and a teddy bear and hat for junior and Janessa," he wrote his mother in May. "I'll try to be home for Janessa's birthday, I have put in for leave for 15 days."

Tyson had just finished officer-candidate school and was managing a Costco store in Glendale when he was called up for duty.

This day, as ranking officer in the search party, Tyson decided to split his squad so his men could cover more ground. He, McCaffrey, Spc. Bruce Himelright, three or four Iraqi soldiers and an interpreter marched through fields and farm villages in search of weapons.

Shot from behind

As the Americans and Iraqis paused to get their bearings and locate the other American search party, Tyson worked the radio on McCaffrey's back while Himelright monitored the area for ambushers.

At 12:04 p.m., the Iraqi trainees pounced, according to American investigators.

None of the U.S. soldiers had a chance to fire back. Tyson's M-16 was still on the "safe" position when he fell. His comrades apparently never saw it coming: Multiple bullets struck McCaffrey and Himelright, most of them from behind.

"I recall the gunshots being loud and I started feeling them hit me in the back," Himelright told investigators. He never saw the shooters, but was certain it was the ICDC who had done the firing.

Himelright tumbled into a canal, where he discovered he was bleeding. "I started to get up and turn around when I felt that I was being shot again," he said. When the firing stopped a few moments later, Himelright crawled out of the canal and found his fallen comrades. Three ICDC soldiers had vanished; one remained, along with the interpreter, he said.

The Army swept into action, ringing the village with Humvees, interrogating any Iraqi man they saw — swiping several for gunpowder residue — and questioning local leaders.

After a headcount at the base, American officers focused on two ICDC soldiers who shared a common tribal name, Talib Kareem Musleh Al Hishmawi and Sabah Kareem Muhammed Al Hishmawi. The pair, who had been patrolling with the Americans, had not returned more than a week after the shootings. Moreover, a third Iraqi guardsman identified Talib as the shooter.

The Army's Criminal Investigation Command, known as CID, reported its official findings in September 2005: ICDC patrolling with the U.S. soldiers had shot the Americans.

CID found probable cause to believe a member of B Company, 210th ICDC "committed the offense of murder when he shot and killed Spc. McCaffrey during a joint U.S. Iraqi patrol."

The CID report continued: "The shooting occurred from within the patrol element." The suspect's name was redacted in a copy of the report reviewed by The Associated Press.

Not everyone agrees with CID's conclusion.

Sgt. Travis Nease, a medic who was first on the scene to assess casualties, believes Tyson, McCaffrey and Himelright were shot by off-duty ICDC troops who ambushed the Americans at close range, then fled.

Nease was on a sniper "overwatch" team assigned to protect Tyson's platoon and other units, monitoring their movements from atop a hill about 400 to 700 meters away. While he did not actually witness the shootings, he had seen the search party in the moments before and after. Given the positions of the Americans and the Iraqis, he disputes the CID account.

"The guys that were walking with them did not shoot them," Nease said in a telephone interview. Nease theorized that the assailants drove up in a vehicle, fired, and sped off, leaving little evidence such as shell casings, which likely dropped onto their truck.

Internal documents show Army investigators did find fresh tire tracks nearby, but rejected Nease's theory, because of Himelright's statements about the ICDC troops. "They were the only ones around prior to me hearing gunfire," Himelright told CID. He added that the interpreter told him the ICDC had shot him.

On the CID report, the cause of death for both McCaffrey and Tyson is listed as "murder."

Courts 'overwhelmed'

Thirteen months after the shootings, the Army captured a suspect without incident, said Lt. Col. Keir-Kevin Curry, spokesman for detainee operations in Iraq. Another was killed in a firefight with Americans, Nease was told. The military said it could not confirm that.

Curry declined to identify the suspect in custody, citing Army policies in keeping with the Geneva Conventions, which bar the use of detainees "for propaganda or other prohibited purposes."

Supporting the murder charge, military lawyers said, were ballistics tests that allegedly linked the suspect to the AK-47 used in the attack. U.S. forces had seized the weapon from a different Iraqi, and an Army criminal lab in Forest Park, Ga., said it tied bullets removed from McCaffrey's chest to that same AK-47. An ICDC ledger says the suspect was issued that weapon on the day of the killings, according to military documents. Fingerprint tests on the weapon were inconclusive.

There was not enough evidence to tie a particular suspect to the shootings of Tyson or Himelright, military lawyers concluded. Chris Grey, CID spokesman, said "no other positive forensic links made with any other weapons and victims" were confirmed.

But even the case of McCaffrey, who was promoted posthumously to sergeant, now seems to have sputtered.

The interpreter who witnessed the slayings disappeared after saying he'd been threatened by one of the shooters. Investigators have not tracked him down.

Other witnesses have also vanished and are being sought, Curry said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "It is anticipated their testimony would be critical in a criminal prosecution."

Although there was not yet enough evidence to go to trial, according to a Navy officer who serves as military legal adviser in the McCaffrey case, the case remains on the Long Term Threat List, "a compilation of exceptionally important cases which require further intensive investigative attention."

The case underscores the enormous challenges of prosecuting a murder case in the Central Criminal Court of Iraq, which has jurisdiction over terrorist and insurgent crimes.

The difficulty of meshing different languages, cultures and legal systems is magnified by the crushing case load, said Michael A. Newton, a former State Department war crimes lawyer who recently returned from his fourth trip to Iraq, where he has served as a legal adviser to Iraqi judges. Often, evidence must be gathered from Iraqi and American military sources who have since deployed elsewhere, he said.

"The reality is they're overwhelmed," said Newton, now a professor at the Vanderbilt University Law School. "What they've tended to do is take cases that are relatively clean, evidentiary-wise. The evidence is available, they know they can use it, and they get them done."

In just one case has an Iraqi soldier been convicted of murdering a U.S. serviceman, Curry said. Amir Alawi Owaid was convicted Aug. 30 of fatally shooting Marine Pfc. Brian M. Taylor and wounding another Marine.

Owaid was sentenced to life in prison.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Are we in the Land of Plenty?

There is a wise saying that "You can have food and lots of problems, but you don't have food, you only got one problem.

Though for many American's we don't think of hunger and food shortages in our land of plenty.

The solution isn't finding more means to fill food pantries, and hand outs; though greatly needed.

The solution is more farmers and gardeners to supplement diets, creating new work opportunities and strengthening the bonds of community through mutual work and experiences.

I have been on the road for a year and half getting my hands dirty and evaluating the needs of communities and those specifically of veterans who are in need of work, and time and places to decompress after deployment.

Please read the following article and please remember hunger and famine is not only confined to remote developing world communities.

Report: More Americans going hungry
By Amy Goldstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 16, 2009; 3:14 PM

The number of Americans who lack dependable access to adequate food shot up
last year to 49 million, the largest number since the government has been
keeping track, according to a federal report released Monday that shows
particularly steep increases in food scarcity among families with children.

In 2008, the report found, nearly 17 million children -- more than one in
five across the United States -- were living in households in which food at
times ran short, up from slightly more than 12 million youngsters the year
before. And the number of children who sometimes were outright hungry rose
from nearly 700,000 to almost 1.1 million.

Among people of all ages, nearly 15 percent last year did not consistently
have adequate food, compared with about 11 percent in 2007, the greatest
deterioration in access to food during a single year in the history of the

Taken together, the findings provide the latest glimpse into the toll that
the weak economy has taken on the well-being of the nation's residents. The
findings are from a snapshot of food in America that the U.S. Agriculture
Department has issued every year since 1995, based on Census Bureau surveys.
It documents both Americans who are scrounging for adequate food -- people
living with some amount of "food insecurity" in the lexicon of experts --
and those whose food shortages are so severe that they are hungry.

"These numbers are a wake-up call for us to get very serious about
food security and hunger, about nutrition and food safety in this country,"
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said during a briefing of reporters.

The report released Monday is the first produced during the tenure of
President Obama, who pledged during his campaign for the White House last
year to eliminate hunger among children by 2015, a goal that no previous
president has set.

The administration has not produced a full-fledged plan
to meet that objective, but White House and Agriculture officials said in
recent interviews that they are developing policies.

Among the first is a decision to use $85 million freed up by Congress as part of a recent appropriations bill to experiment with ways to get food to more children
during the summer, when subsidized school breakfasts and lunches are

Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack attributed the marked worsening in Americans' access to food primarily to the rise in unemployment, which now exceeds 10 percent, and in people who are underemployed.

"It's no secret. Poverty, unemployment, these are all factors," he said. Vilsack acknowledged that "there could be additional increases" in the 2009 figures, due out a year from now, although he said it is not yet clear how much the problem might be eased by the measures the administration and Congress have taken this year to stimulate the economy.

The report's main author at USDA, Mark Nord, noted that other recent
research by the agency has found that most families in which food is scarce
contain at least one adult with a full-time job, suggesting that the problem
lies at least partly in wages, not just an absence of work.

The report suggests that the main federal programs intended to help people
struggling to get adequate food are only partly fulfilling their purpose.

Just more than half of the people surveyed who reported they had food
shortages said that they had, in the previous month, participated in one of
the government's largest anti-hunger and nutrition programs: food stamps,
subsidized school lunches or WIC, the nutrition program for women with
babies or young children.

The government's next significant forum for debating how to improve access to food is likely to come next year, when Congress is scheduled to renew the country's main law covering food and nutrition for children. In the meantime, the White House has been convening frequent meetings with officials from several federal departments --
including Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban
Development, in addition to Agriculture -- that deal with youngsters'

Last year, people in 4.8 million households used private food pantries,
compared with 3.9 million in 2007, while people in about 625,000 households
resorted to soup kitchens, nearly 90,000 more than the year before.

Food shortages, the report shows, are particularly pronounced among women
raising children alone. Last year, more than one in three single mothers
reported that they struggled for food and more than one in seven said
someone in their home had been hungry -- far eclipsing the food problem in
any other kind of household.

The report also found that people who are black or Hispanic were more than twice as likely as whites to report that food in their home was scarce.

Poverty and food shortages are linked but are not the same thing, according
to the report. Just half the households in which food is scarce have incomes
at or below the official poverty level, the data show, while most of the
rest live at less than twice the poverty level.

Around the Washington area, the extent of food shortages varies

In the District, an average of 13.7 percent of households between 2006 and 2008 have had at least some problems getting enough food,although the problem in the District is not as severe as it was from a three-year period a decade earlier, according to the report.

In Virginia,the prevalence of food shortages also has fallen in the past year to less
than 9 percent. In Maryland, the problem has grown slightly worse,
increasing to an average of 9.6 percent the past three years from 8.7
percent a decade before.

Overall, the data show that people who do not consistently have enough food
experience the problem repeatedly, but not all the time. On average,
households with such scarcity had the problem seven months out of the year,
while about one-fourth said the problem occurred almost every month.

In the survey used to measure food shortages, people were considered to have
food insecurity if they said that answered "yes" to several of a series of

Among the questions were whether, in the past year, their food
sometimes ran out before they had money to buy more, whether they could not
afford to eat nutritionally balanced meals, and whether adults in the family
sometimes cut the size of their meals -- or skipped them -- because they
lacked enough money for food. The report defined the degree of their food
insecurity by the number of the questions to which they answered yes.

My heart breaks for Niger

November 19, 2009

Last night I heard wind of this news in Niger and it breaks my heart because once again the Peace Corps is shutting down specific zones where we have operated for decades. Currently PCV's from the Konni region have been evacuated and forced to either call it quits and return home or be reassigned to another region to continue their service.

My heart really goes out for those there now. As a volunteer who had to leave post due to being badly injured (broken back) and never having the chance to say good bye to my village is a deep void in my heart that will certainly never be filled...well until I return.

Without further adieu the State Department memo on the events that transpired.

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the risks of travel to Niger due to threat of kidnapping, and recommends against all travel to Niger at this time. This Travel Alert expires February 28, 2010.

On December 14, 2008, two United Nations officials, former Canadian diplomats, were kidnapped by the terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) while returning to Niamey after a visit to a Canadian-operated gold mine.

On January 22, 2009, four Europeans were abducted by AQIM operatives along the Mali-Niger border as their tour group returned to Niamey from a cultural festival in the Malian town of Anderamboukane.

On November 14, 2009, heavily armed individuals attempted to kidnap U.S. embassy employees in Tahoua.

In addition to the threat of kidnapping posed by extremists, a State of Alert is in effect for the region of Agadez, including the cities of Agadez, Arlit, and Iferouane.

The State of Alert means that all travelers require Government of Niger permission for travel in and around these cities, and are liable to be stopped and held for questioning.

Moreover, the Nigerien military has the authority to hold individuals for questioning, without cause, beyond the standard 48 hours that local law enforcement is authorized to hold an individual for questioning before rendering charges.

Conditions of insecurity persist throughout northern and western Niger, and armed groups operate with relative impunity throughout these border regions. In addition, conflict zones in northern Niger are strewn with landmines, further impeding travel.

Please note that due to security concerns, U.S. government employees and official visitors are not permitted to travel outside of Niamey at this time.

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens traveling to or remaining in Niger despite this Travel Alert to take responsibility for their own safety and security. American citizens should keep abreast of local events, monitor local news sources, and maintain heightened situational awareness at all times.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Farmer Veteran Resurfaces

Greetings, my name is Joshua Anderson I have served America twice, once as a medic in the Army, then secondly as a agriculture extension agent for the Peace Corps in Niger, West Africa. Until recently I was working and traveling full time as the veteran coordinator for the FVC. Currently, I am studying organic agriculture as a farm apprentice at the UC Santa Cruz: Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, or CASFS for short.

I am writing to broadly outline my experiences as a farm apprentice for the last three months and paint a portrait of how this experience will mold my future endeavors while connecting more veterans to agriculture opportunities.

The CASFS experience is a 6 month 360 degree learning environment spent living with 39 other apprentices in tents and surviving on the food grown onsite. Fellow apprentices consists of farmers, chefs, policy wonks, as well as many other food related professionals devoted to improving the state of community food production and accessibility.

At the farm our studies and activities are divided rotationally into 6 week blocks in which we work at different sites and scales of production for "field" vegetable production, cut flower and gardening, greenhouses, and orcharding. Furthermore within these 6 week blocks are sub rotations in which we manage daily chores and operations to keep the plants healthy and the farm viable. Aside from farming we also learn about marketing, business management, and applied botanical, biological, and earth science concepts related to agriculture.

CASFS is well respected not only for its curriculum but the quality of work its former apprentices achieve after graduating. After 35 years of operation, this "Harvard of horticulture" is considered by many as one main cradles of modern American organic agriculture.

My personal aspirations at CASFS are to become a better farmer, teacher and manager. With this in mind the post CASFS plan is to begin an international farming project called the Valley Forge Village or VFV for short in Sauk Centre Minnesota. Working in conjunction with our sister organization, the Patrick McCaffrey Foundation www.patrickmccaffreyfoundation.org our determination is to set the national standard for veterans services related to personal wellness, occupational training, and village scale food production

When developing the site at VFV, agriculture production will be focused on sustainably producing food for ourselves, the local community, and the larger region. To achieve these goals the farm will use a diversity of approaches such as education, vocational training, and horticultural therapy by modeling an apprenticeship program based on the principals of CASFS.

Currently the VFV is aiming to begin farming next season, as future farm manager my expectations are that we will need between 10-20 veterans working in the capacities of structural remodeling and building, equipment operation, animal husbandry, orchards, vegetable-fruit production, marketing, and food services.

Living in Niger as a subsistence farmer taught me that my strengths are rooted in patience, adaptability, and creativity when challenged to a task. Since returning both the FVC and CASFS have equally been instrumental in making myself a more well rounded farmer, food fighter, and professional.

This is simply a summation of a farmer vets' past few months, if any of these thoughts reach out to you or someone you know please enlist in our efforts, I assure our mission is simply nothing short of a movement to best enable the next generation of American farmers and our nation's next era of sustainable food production.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Break Week Blues


Wheezed the farm apprentice.

Break Week? Said another.

Break Week, said the first "wheezing" farm apprentice. (me)

I love farming, farm school is still going well, I just finished my second rotation in the field. But I am pooped.

Farm school is a full contact sport with 39 other apprentices, and though the climate is not extreme, it is nice to break from the outdoor life and settle in some artificial climates.

For instance, last night I slept on the floor of my boss's apartment and enjoyed a ceiling fan….. "A fan"…..I know its not much, but it is all I can handle considering artificial climates.

Hey, it’s a start, running the AC would likely be a little to much too soon.


Next week, my rotation in the down garden begins and from there its going to be flower power pandemonium.


Though my focus is on growing food for folk to eat, working with flowers and making countless bouquets however has given me a great appreciation for enjoying the aesthetic nature of flowers and the intoxicating beauty they posses.

So now I am currently in Davis, CA.
Apparently its hot here, I have heard of temps reaching over 105 F daily, I can't wait, I miss the heat.

Santa Cruz is beautiful, the ocean, mountains, Mediterranean climate, and great food culture is definitely a perk. But its foggy till noon everyday,while the mercury seldom creeps over 85F at its zenith.

As a result there is a missing season for my first full year back in the States. Summer.

Ah summer, the heat, canoe trips, camping, humid nights, entire days worth of booming Midwestern thunderstorms, outdoor concerts, Shakespeare in the park, and the food……

Its August and I just had my 1st bite of sweet corn, peppers are following soon, as well as tomatoes.


Just now sweet corn, no peppers, no tomatoes. Don't get me wrong I’m eating very well, but the dog days of summer are incomplete without the seasonal treats mentioned above.

No salsa, no homemade tomato sauces, grilled sweet corn, "forgetaboutit". Nope.

So here I am in Davis, about to enjoy some of the summer days of sun, potentially I will be seeing a few Peace Corps friends living in the area.

But aside from that my role for the week will be working with the FVC to lay the groundwork for some future events such as fundraisers, veteran recruitment, and planning for Farm Aid in October.

Well that's about it, keep panting off the heat


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sauk Centre News Add

  There are signs of prog­ress in opening the Valley Forge Village project on the former Minnesota Correc­tional Facility campus. The project is part of the Patrick McCaffrey Foundation. Mike Weisser, Vice Pres­ident of the Patrick McCaffrey Foundation, explained the lat­est happenings to citizens and city officials of Sauk Centre in moving ideas towards actions in a meeting Wednesday.

Weisser and others brought forth reports of 'nay saying' from some Sauk Centre resi­dents questioning an influx of persons into the community who might be 'unsavory,' an increase in taxes, and taking over jobs now held by local citizens. Apparently there are some around who feel appre­hensive about helping to bring the project into fruition, feel­ing this is sham for securing some individuals a chance to make a lot of money.

  “We shouldn't feel this way about our veterans who may have fallen on hard times through no fault of their own,” stated Weisser, and reinforced by others. “This is a time when immediate help is needed for that group of Americans, and we have immediate access to the finest property in the en­tire country for the variety of opportunities which could be­come a reality.”

  The project will be funded in total by donations to open the facility and will be fully self-sustaining within two years by income from vari­ous sources. A case study and business plan substantiates this projection as determined by experts in their fields.

Without naming names as yet, there are several activ­ists with money resources and political clout who are not only showing interest but also nudging others to come forth. “Hopefully this will ex­tend to the Presidency and Congress to take immediate action through the stimulus package,” he said.

Weisser handed out a 7-minute DVD to those in at­tendance, gaining input as to how to best distribute them.

Suggestions were made to have a showing on the Sauk Centre Herald stage during the Stearns County Fair and at the Interpretative Center.

The video is also on You­Tube and can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=7wSYD84y--g

“There are people know­ledgeable and capable enough to coordinate the many facets required in getting the proj­ect underway,” cited Weisser, who explained some of the pluses for the campus besides its having buildings already in place.

The entire project would be monitored by Larson-Al­len, a world-class C.P.A. firm that specializes in nonprofit organizations. They would set all salaries based on local pay standards and provide controls and audits over local contrac­tors, which will provide ser­vices and products.

  The veterans who would come to the facility are not those in need of extended care such as provided by the Vet­erans Administration. Instead they would be single, married, even with families, who may not be able to find a job, and in need of educational oppor­tunities required in the present societal framework.

  “Many veterans would come to the village who have been diagnosed with PTSD or TBI and just need a place to decompress before trying to fit back into society,” said Weisser.
  These veterans are not victims but are returning war­riors who fought to keep our country free and now have earned the right to have the training and rehabilitation necessary to lead a produc­tive life in society and with their families, according to Weisser.

 The grounds and loca­tion have much to offer.

  “For instance, there are 35 acres of farmland ready for organic farming to be taught by persons steeped in that area,” said Weisser. “A Minneapolis organic food coop is already on board to purchase all the crops from the site. A barn already built could house horses used for equine therapy for residents and their families.”

  There can be an innova­tive wellness program for the vets, which would be moni­tored by two doctors from the Mayo Clinic in Roches­ter who have a great feel for such a veterans program and its centering on body, mind and spirit.

  Sauk Centre, being in the center of the state, also has easy access from three highways systems moving through the city, I-94, State Highway 28 and US High­way 71. The city is close enough to eight colleges and technical schools within easy bus distance. Alexandria, Willmar, St. Cloud, Staples and Wadena are cities with such institutions.

Weisser went on to stress Valley Forge Village would be a nonprofit, privately­ run national institution with some financial and other aid from government. “Hopefully, within two years after its inception it would be financially manage­able on its own,' said Weis­ser. 'There are available op­portunities to initially house as many as 250 persons with a staff around 75-100, de­pending on the needs of the veterans.”

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Valley Forge DVD on Youtube

Valley Forge Village: (VFV) An intentional community for veterans and their families.

I can't get the link feature to work, simply cut and paste on address bar

This short film conveys the urgent need for funding a well-grounded vision of rehabilitation and healing for predeployed and returned service members. At Valley Forge we share a common vision and understand intimately the need for a facility such as this, but need to generate more awareness and funding to make this vision a reality.

The primary focus of the VFV will be offering veterans an opportunity to readjust back after deployment in the form of opportunities for introspection, counseling, job training, as well as rest and relaxation.

Healing our veterans goes far beyond their physical bodies; wellness encompasses the body, mind, and spirit. Monitored by the Mayo Clinic the village wellness model will offer veterans a place to reinforce happiness and fulfillment while readjusting back into community after experiencing war.

The Valley Forge Village is nestled along the shores of Sauk Lake, located on the northern city limits of Sauk Centre Minnesota (population 5,000). The campus is centrally located within the state approximately 100 miles northwest from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Twin Cities on interstate 95. The VFV is also in close proximity to local institutions of higher education as well as VA medical facilities.

Some examples of vocational and job training will be in the areas of agriculture, green technologies, civil service, manufacturing, restaurant services, retail management, artisan craftsmanship, as well as many related skills essential for success.

When developing the agriculture aspect of the VFV, production will be focused on sustainably producing food for ourselves, the local community, and region. To achieve this goal, the village farm program will utilize a diversity of approaches such as: education, apprenticeships, and horticultural therapy, as well as for profit production business ventures.

Military service is deeply engrained within the fabric of our families and communities, if you are a veteran or know someone who is, send them this letter and link to youtube. Click on link below.

If you are inspired to donate, participate, or learn more about this unique opportunity, then please feel free to contact us anytime.

In Peace,

Joshua Anderson

Farm Manager- Valley Forge Village
National Veteran Coordinator-Farmer Veteran Coalition
Army Medic & Agriculture Extension Agent, Peace Corps Niger

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A pinch, did this really happen?

For those of you who have been tuning into my life since the conception of this blog, or before then, then you would know that I picked up the mandolin late in 2006 merely months prior to leaving for Niger and it has never been more than arm reach since.

Be it traversing a mountain, canoeing a river, or trudging through the Nigerien deserts, or continuing on my omnivores odyssey "ah" mandolin has never been more than arm reach away, hopefully, that's how its going to be as long life courses through my veins.

The mandolin influenced portion of my life began when my good friend and music mentor Rich Berry (a delta acoustic blues player) told me to play mandolin instead of guitar.

Bewildered my response was….What the @$&%! is a mandolin?

Prior to leaving for the walkabout in Niger my music genesis began by playing with and learning from friends or folk whom I would meet along the way. Not to mention the countless hours meticulously picking apart the music pulsing from the stereo.

Though I am no professional, if not for the likes of my immediate mentors the mandolin would never have crossed my path and altered my life. Here are a few of my most immediate influences.

Barty Crawford: 82 years young, A bluegrass hall of famer, mandolin player, teacher, fiddler, historian, and former cohort to the greats such as Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley and the list goes on and on and on.

Niger: Patrick (last name and age unknown)
AKA-Le Viper,("le vai-pie'aire") graan-PA! and rastaman.
Born Togolese, adopted Nigerien; Patrick was a farmer, musician, humanitarian, mentor to all Nigerien musicians coming up through the ranks as well up to the last day my very good friend.
RIP, bless this soul.

Rob Nold: mid 40's life long musician teacher since age 9, deeply rooted in Appalachian style playing, fiddle, guitar, luthier as well as damn good carpenter and fiery son of a bitch after a few snorts of whiskey.

Lastly, but not beastly there are also my indirect music guides to the likes of David Grisman, Bill Monroe, Sam Bush…the names go on and on, you know the type of Icons whom all aspiring pickers dream of playing like, playing with, or becoming one day.

In this case particular lets focus on Grisman, the one whom I aspired most to play with.

Formerly a member of Old and in the Way, best friend and music partner to the late Jerry Garcia, David "dawg" Grisman is nothing short of a mandolin virtuoso and though he has aged as all things naturally do, the dawg he has never ceased in his abilities to expand the influence of the mandolin into broader diversities of music genres.

The first time I listened to the dawg after picking up the mandolin my first thought was, some day I will find a way to play with him!

Life has a funny way of marking off those life "to do" things along the way, especially when you least expect it.

The Skinny

Last Saturday after a full day of reading and leisurely landscaping the parcel of turf around my humble tent I casually strode up the hill armed to the teeth with my mandolin and with no ambition other than allowing the natural course of events to unfold for a night.

The final performances were mandolin players of all skill levels who shelled out about a thousand clams to learn from some of the masters of the Mandolin world and then later perform with them on stage at the closing gala.

After the individual and group performances they invited all mandolin players to come up stage and perform two numbers in a full mandolin orchestra.

So myself and another fellow farmie from the apprenticeship went up with our mandolins stood in the back unknowingly stealing the earned spots of two paying pickers apparently part of the rhythm section.

Unbeknown to us the whole group had been practicing throughout the week and even had sheet music and assigned soloist etc etc.

Playing practically "air mandolin" we were struggling to even play anything remotely close to the practiced pickers, but having a ball all the same.

At the end the player next to us mumbled "helps if you come to practice before the performance"
My reply was, how could we have done that, we just got here!

Squinty eyes, you could feel the hairy eyeballs glaring.

At this time the conductor of the performance announces a post party at the commons center.

We look at each other…...Why not? Lets go.

Committed to the night, a trio of our group including the stage storming cohort and one of our awesome "2nd year" apprentices stayed behind after the rest of the farmie gang returned to home base to retire.

About an hour after the performance and closing ceremony many of the players, professors, and family members began trickling into the commons center, Brazilians, Czhech's, Germans, Americans. You name it This is the dAwg's mandolin symposium, its internationally accepted that if you want to learn from the best, this is where you come, but its gonna cost some serious $$$$

Much to my chagrin the festivities were complete with wine, beer, sausages, cheeses, and all the other delectable treats found at an event such as this. So reluctantly we indulge, and thank god my guilty conscious didn't slow me down! It was nearly midnight and I had only a small breakfast way earlier in the day.

The soiree started as all social engagements begin; modest, refrained, then later WHOOSH!

The Brazilians cut loose, outside dozens of folk are dancing, laughing, and commenting on the Brazilians' contagious charm and their amazing skills as musicians.

By this time the cat is out of the bag, nearly all know we have crashed the party, but somehow we are accepted and forgiven. Our rap is that we are farmers who have been supplying all of them with the fresh cut flowers, salad mixes, assorted veggies " and such and that as a result we were too busy to come up earlier or partake in the event formally".

"Though I have been planning on crashing this party since I made the connection between attending CASFS and knowing the symposium was here about two years ago!!"

The gentlemen who growled at us for playing on stage is a computer programmer from Sonoma County, he has a few kids involved in 4-H, they even raise some heritage breeds of turkeys, he sought out our advice in some farming techniques.

We gave him some input, cost him a beer.

Needing a respite from the excitable influence of the Brazilians especially (Danilo Brito) check this man out!!! He was voted pretty much best musician in Brazil, really nice guy, imagine Django Reinheart but with all his fingers, anyhow I was needing a break so I went inside and was swept away by an entirely different party.

Sitting on couches there were kids aged about 8 (much better players than I) and all other aged folks playing blues music to the que of one of the mandolin facilitators whom I befriended named Rich Delgrosso who specializes in blues mandolin, and does it damn well.

Immediately myself and fellow stage storming cohort grab our mando's and sneak into two open chairs front and center of the circle and then quickly started owning the circle for what its worth….

Then it happens,minding my own bidness, focused intently on my own playing I take a lead here and there, play rhythm, add my flavor of chops, before we know it the whole room is up singing having a blast to old school blues "You got me up, down, all around……"

I look up and there he is….the….the….the dawg, Mr. Grisman himself…. JAMMING!

My eyes light up, my picking intensifies what do you do when the music legend and personal music hero sits across from you?

Well you smile back, try not to go into hyper #1 fan ever mode then JAM to the music like jesus himself is leading the sermon.

The song ends he looks at me, gives a nod, a smile, and then gives me his mandolin to play.

Seriously, can I be 13 year old girl here, OMG! OMG!

For what seemed like an eternity but lasted only about an hour or so the songs keep coming; the dawg takes a lead, we take some, the masses of onlookers grow, myself and cohort are on cloud 9, all other life on the planet ceases to matter (except Cat' I wish she could be there) but really could this night be better?

The answer is no, but it certainly didn't get any worse, Mike Marshall approaches, we play a finale "Sitting on Top of the World" he forgets the chords….eh, I guess it even happens to the pro's.

After the jam we continue to shmooze, then I get to talk with Mr. Grisman,
David! Mr. Grisman! Big Fan, since playing…….lived Niger……lost desert w/ mandolin…listen all the time…...returned….travelled OMG! OMG!

Fucking # 1 fan mode, I felt like those pesky Michael Jackson fanatics you see crying uncontrollably.
Totally embarrassing.

Well he might think I was a little hyper excited and one of the millions….but you know how often do you get to lose it in front of your idol?

Well I don't know, but I'll let you know after life throws more of them in my path.

Wrapping up, we go back outside the Brazilians are even more charged then before but the party is closing its nearing 0300 in the morning, we say our good byes we are walking away and we hear

"HEY FARMERS!!! Thanks for crashing our party" all laugh.

The next morning I’m up at 0800, immediately I pinch myself, did last night really happen?

Did I really go to bed at 0500 and already up ready to keep picking?

At our encouragement from the evening festivities a few of the mandolin teachers including "Mike Marshall none the less seemed to have heeded our advice and spent some time walking the farm before shoving off"

Welcome to paradise, our farm, we are simply muses here to grow food and offer a little music on the side.

Up howl'n with the Dawg

What a wonderful weekend.

Thursday marked the beginning of a rock star weekend.

June 25th I celebrated my birthday by cooking for the fellow farmers; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. From 0600-1900 the humble servant was night held inside the kitchen. Well it wasn't that bad, I had some PBR's listened to good music and enjoyed the company of another apprentice.

Friday was devoted towards celebrating and knocking another notch on the birthday belt. Best of all, oddly enough, this year there are three other apprentices who share the same birthday as moi.

So in remembrance to the king of pop, we boogied the night away in the Farm Center to all the MJ classics.

The next day I decided to tap into my creative center and then I spent the better part of Saturday transforming my barren campsite into a creative place of zen.

After a honest attempt at beautification the result was a nice redwood shag carpet for a front lawn and some foraged lawn ornaments doubled as chairs, tables, and art…all in the form of chopped up trees!

No hubcaps but plenty of empty mason or moonshine jars (depending geographically) ….though there is no 'shine to fill the jars I chose flower bouquets.

Who would have thought I had a knack for making floral arrangements?

So after the landscaping, a leisurely hot outdoor shower, and cold frosty oat soda; I mustered enough steam to trudge up the hill on campus and watch the closing night for the David Grisman mandolin symposium being held on at the auditorium.

From there I am going to cease this blog entry. But weary not I am going to devote an entirely fresh entry to mark the evenings festivities.

I will say nay but this.

That whole life checklist thingy…put a big freak'n red check mark on it.

Whats anutta yeahr?

31 Years young.

June 25th 1978 between the hours 0800-0900 my mother brought me into this magical world.
I have been kicking and screaming every since. "-)

On my birthday I woke at the butt crack of dawn and made breakfast, lunch, and dinner for 45 fungry farmers. Yes fungry, part fun, part hungry.

A day well spent listening to music, talking with loved ones, having a PBR here and there and sharing the kitchen with a mad English born-"Irish adopted" ole' gent.

Kevin is from County Clair and aside from being a rad guy he can also be considered the worlds leading expert in native variety Irish orchard trees.

Seriously dialed in, damn good teacher, much better friend.

June 25th carries many distinctions as a historical date.

Did you know my birth day also coincides with:
North Korea invading South Korea:1950
The patent of barbed wire 1830ish
The day General Custer was served his last pie…

And now…... the dubious distinction of the day Michael Jackson and Farrah Faucet perished and took their new journey into the unknown.

To celebrate MJ-FF lives as well as the living-we are rejoicing with three other people here who have the same birthday, and two of those are twins!!

It’s the day after the event and what a grand regal time complete with disco ball, free flowing libations, dancing, merry jubilation as well as lovely fresh picked blueberry pie from the farm as well as the greatest happy birthday song ever sang to me.

Bless my fellow farmers.
Many blessings to all,
Thanks for reading, keep on keep'n on.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

5-9-09 Fertile Thoughts

Greetings guys, just realized today between transplanting flowers that I have neglected to keep you all up to date on much information…for that I am sorry, totally forgot about blogging!!

Last night I gave a presentation to our "farmies" talking about the FVC and the future farm project with the Veterans Village.

This weekend Cat' is flying in, its going to be so so so so so so lovely to have my little kitten purring next to me in the tent.

In addition to Cat coming official FVC beckons, potentially meaning her and I attending a film screening of a new documentary named "fresh".

"welcome to California" I see the big sign overlooking the hill "FOODYWOOD"

Everything is going swimmingly,

Sorry about forgetting about having a blog.
TOTALLY forgot , my sister was fertilized with eggs today, maybe I'm a uncle!!!
Fertile thoughts, Fertile thougths.

Monday, May 18, 2009

5-17-09 Kittens' in the news....

Greetings guys, all is well just returned from a long strange journey into the hinterlands of America, the Minnesota prairie, the Wobagon trail. My future farm/ nay our future farm.

Here is an article about my lovely woman in the VEGA Alliance newsletter.
VEGA is described as:

Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance
is the world’s largest nonprofit consortium
dedicated to promoting economic growth in
developing and transitional nations.

She's a wonderfully talented creature and I look very forward to sharing the experience of Minnesota with.

Each year National Volunteer Week presents an opportunity
for nonprofits to commemorate their volunteers.

In 2009, this week took place from April 19-
25. This year’s theme was“Celebrating People in Action.”

Last year, during National Volunteer Week, VEGA
recognized volunteers from VEGA and Member
Organization projects by awarding them the President’s
Volunteer ServiceAward (PVSA) and the
VEGA Service ImpactAward.

The awardees submitted photos from their
volunteer assignments in a VEGA photo contest.
The winner, Cathryn Kloetzli, is a Winrock International
volunteer who was recognized for her
specialized technical assistance in agricultural development
and pest management.

She provided assistance to farmers in Kyrgyzstan and
Nepal. In Osh, Kyrgyzstan,she worked with small-scale garden and
fruit tree farmers belonging to Water User's Associations.

WUAs are a selfmanaging group of community
members who manage, maintain and operate
the local water supply to ensure a fair and
equitable distribution of this resource to reduce
conflict and build social stability. She helped increase
yields and profits by streamlining farmers’water use and production
techniques and conducting trainings in disease management,
alternative pesticides,fertilization and soil health.

In Pokhara, Nepal, she introduced Integrated Pest
Management (IPM) techniques for greenhouse tomato
production. Training in IPM techniques addressed
problems resulting from lack of crop rotation
and fallow periods.

The use of these techniques will improve yields
and profitability and protect the farmers from significant
crop loss due to pest damage.

Member Organizations who would like to recognize
their volunteers by awarding the President’s Volunteer Service Awards
can visit the website below.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

5-12-09 Lights, Camera, Food Fight, Farms, and Revolution

Greetings Wayfarers

Well here I am resting in a BED!!!

Its been a long trek across the country and my travels have left me in a hotel room near Minneapolis, Minnesota.

climate control, bountiful fast food, hot water, BUT most importantly ….
…….h-h-h-HOT TUB!!!!

Honestly wandering back in the civil world from the farm and tent life feels kinda reminiscent of coming out of the bush back in Niger.

What? Where? How?
Wasn't I just in Santa Cruz?

All valid inquires.

Here is the skinny. I’m here in MN to meet the local agriculture community, participate in a fundraiser for the Veterans Village, but most importantly do an production evaluation for the potential future farm.

Very Exciting!!
The wayfarer inches further down the rabbit hole

Last night I spoke at the "Food Fight" screening at the Santa Cruz film festival, in attendance were approximately 300 farmers, foodies, and freaks who rolled up the proverbial red carpet for a spectacular extravaganza which outlined our nations current food "insecurity", the military industrial "food" complex as well as the epicenter of America's local food movement….chiefly being San Francisco.

In earnest, not my most riveting address, I'll leave that to exhaustion, unpreparedness, and the fact that I gulped about a liter and a half worth of water during the film without relief.

The night prior to the screening I was fortunate enough to meet and spend the night slugging down a couple pints with Chris Taylor, the wonderful director of the film. In attendance at the pub was my good buddy, who is also an Iraq veteran and perpetual surf bum living in his van.

Without trepidations our trio delved into the conversational realms of veterans affairs, historic and contemporary models of civilizations' successes and failures due to food production, and least but not forgotten the creation of a new advocacy group dedicated to stopping continental drift.

I'll be a monkey's uncle if I’m going to allow France's western beaches to invade our beloved eastern seaboard!!!!
"Stop Continental Drift!!" ….."Stop Continental Drift!!!"

We invade France, not the other way around.

Anyhow, it was an incredible opportunity to make a new friend out of Chris Taylor, as a director he is socially conscious, attentive to detail, and witty in his story telling. As a person I consider him an exceptional human being and I remain all the better for having the opportunity to meet such a dynamic person.

Lord knows, at the beginning of this omnivore's odyssey there were no preconceived ideas of where the breezes would blow me, speaking to 300 folk at one of our nation's epicenters of quality food is not one of them…

So here I am in Minnesota one step closer to my end goal. Start a "farmily" Village, but most importantly working sideways to take down.... "The Man"

His food taste like poo!

Well its about 0200 I’m wiped and ready to decompress,

Kwana da Alhieri!!
"Sleep with Peace"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Yours Truley, In da news Wa Wa Wa

SANTA CRUZ -- Pioneers of the slow food movement are joining chefs, farmers and other supporters of the UC Santa Cruz Farm to raise money for a plan to construct cabins for apprentices who live in tents while they learn the fine points of organic agriculture.

Berkeley's famed restaurant, Chez Panisse, created by sustainable food guru Alice Waters, is among the businesses hosting benefits this month to raise money for the six-month-long Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture, which has trained more than 1,200 organic farmers since the 1970s. Locally, Gabriella Cafe and Ristorante Avanti are among those donating a portion of sales to the Grow a Farmer campaign to keep free housing for students. Most students could not afford to rent a place in town.

"If I had to pay for housing while I was here, there is no way I could have done it," said Wisconsin farmer Claire Strader, a 2000 graduate of the program who was a top vote-getter for the online competition at WhiteHouseFarmer.com allowing her to propose the White House hire a full-time farmer.

Although she learned beekeeping and orchard management at the farm, the experience that has stuck with her the most was the communal cooking, eating and overall sense of camaraderie built among fellow students.

"That was a big piece for me," said Strader, who visited UCSC last weekend to speak on an environmental panel during Alumni Weekend.
The university has approved plans to build eight four-room tent cabins to accommodate 32 apprentices near the site of the tents, which sit on one side of the 25-acre farm. Apprentices have been allowed to pitch their own tents for two decades, but now the university wants the farm to complete its 10-year plan to build permanent housing.

"For many reasons, most of which involve the health and safety of the participants, the campus informed representatives of the apprenticeship program that its residential housing needed to be upgraded," UCSC spokesman Jim Burns said.
Burns said several campus departments -- Physical Planning and Construction, Environmental Health and Safety, the Fire Department and the Division of Social Sciences -- decided the tents had to go after this year. And he noted that part of the project includes new parking for participants with disabilities and other accessibility improvements.

Ann Lindsey, apprenticeship development coordinator for UCSC's Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, is delighted by how quickly supporters have come to the farm's aid. She said graduates and other backers have planned events in Los Angeles, Portland and elsewhere.

"The outpouring of support for this project has been so heartening," she said, adding that she has received money from small-scale farmers who "I know don't have any money."

Chez Panisse will donate a portion of proceeds raised Wednesday to the campaign. Iron Chef competitor David Kinch of Manresa in Los Gatos has donated dinners for four to the campaign's two highest individual donors.

In the Santa Cruz area, Ristorante Avanti will donate a portion of proceeds raised Monday and Gabriella Cafe will do the same May 13. New Leaf Community Markets will donate 5 percent of profits from all five of its stores May 28.

Cindy Geise, who has co-owned Avanti's with husband Paul for 22 years, said she is glad to help the farm.

"We have grown more and more to rely on local farmers for our produce and some of our meat needs," she said. "We're getting things picked hours before that never went into cold storage or traveled hundreds of thousands of miles, burning up fuel, to get here."

The final fundraising push to build the 22-feet-by-22-feet cabins -- to be built with milled redwood from campus trees felled for construction projects -- began in December. Lindsey said $160,000 has been raised, but another $100,000 is needed. The cabins will cost at least $487,000 to build, and the program itself has already kicked in several hundred thousand dollars collected from students fees and farms sales.

Interest in the program is at an all-time high, with a record 152 applicants vying for the 38 positions in the 2009 program. In the 1970s, during the first few years of the program, apprentices stayed in tepees, which were later taken down and replaced by tents furnished by students.

Current apprentice Jessy Beckett, 25, of Santa Cruz, said, "I don't think there is one person here who could pay for rent in town and do this program. It's absolutely vital that we live here. It would make this a program that would make it accessible only to the elite."

Beyond just providing free shelter while paying more than $4,000 in tuition, on-site housing allowed Lindsey, a Colorado native who took the program 20 years ago and stayed, to be "in tune with the land" by "walking through the land you're working on."

Farmer Joshua Anderson agreed, having arrived to take this spring's course from the small Missouri town of Avalon with just a couple of bucks in his pocket. He said communing with the land and other farmers is the best part of residing on the hill.
"Being able to live in the tents, you are constantly engaged by the environment," he said. "You hear the pests, predators -- bobcats and owls. A farmer really needs to take the time to understand the landscape as much as he does trying to grow food."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

4-30-09 FOOD FIGHT!!!


Normally a rebel yell for many lunch room- anarchist, protagonists.

But not this time. Now its from your local wayfaring farmer.

Or more so in this particular instance it’s the name of a documentary that will be showing in Santa Cruz on May 12th and an event in which I have been asked to be a speaker and participant at for the screening and post screening soiree.

To summarize "Food Fight" it is a look into how the California "local food" movement has created a counter revolution against major agribusiness and how those who believe in the sanctity of producing safe, delicious, and wholesome food from someone you know pull off the revolutionary magic that they do.

For brevity sake I'll leave it at that, but if you wish to fully explore the website listed here, COPY AND PASTE, please do.


Since arriving back in America nearly a year ago. My omnivore's odyssey has expanded well past any expectations well past my imagination and the rabbit hole is only getting deeper.

On May 12th, myself and hopefully as many of my fellow 39 farm apprentices from UC Santa Cruz will march down in our farmer duds to the theater for the screening and post screening soiree of "Food Fight" to energize the localvores and fellow food industry professionals that not only is a new generation of farmers, entrepreneur's, educators, writers, chef's, and food industry professionals in attendance; but that we are ready to mobilize a food movement within our own communities and also take the fight to the fat cat's who pull the strings on our food supply...

Hopefully their days are numbered!!!!!

When I attended Farm Aid last year, the only thing I understood from my Grade A "prime choice" seats was that I was witnessing an American food revolution from the front row. Still, some months later here I am, still front row, studying horticulture and organic production not only at one of the first and most revered organic training centers in America, but also underneath the tutelage and within the circles of some of the local- organic movements most prolific organic farmers and activists.

I regularly mention that it took 29 years of my life to get to Niger, once there, they gave me the tools to continue on afterwards. The village of Dan Saga, Niger taught me how to fight the bare knuckle fight against hunger and how to ascend towards village food security.

Currently I'm slotted to start a Veterans Village in Minnesota, and its only square 3 or 4.
( think of it like hopscotch).

Without the lessons from my sorely missed village in Niger I would be wandering, lost, asleep at the wheel so to speak. Instead my life unexpectedly made me a farmer and by continuing to live by wayfaring peacefully my life has become dedicated towards feeding folk, teaching veterans how to farm, and most importantly impacting communities at ground zero…..the dinner table.

Be well, eat well, and send me beef jerky.

P.S. Trapped in the blueberry patch last week I stomped a ground squirrel to death and ate it. Many of the vegans, vegetarians, and PETA spokespeople were a little grossed out but many of the other normal omnivores enjoyed its flesh just fine.

Personally I prefer Missouri squirrel.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The second Weekend in....

Greetings folk, today is a chilly mid 40's kind of day here in paradise. A stark climatic contrasts considering taking a field reading of about 96 F last week.

Under the blistering sun, many complained, but right at home was this former sahelien farmer gliding through the glorious grunt work of bed prepping, transplanting, direct seeding, and laying irrigation.

We had a action packed weekend off the farm, on Friday we had a house party complete with all the party normality's; a little dancing, some regurgitations, some more live music jams and many many laughs.

Though it should become a joke myself an Irishman, Iranian, and a Native American from the Hopi nation went to the near by Cabrillo farmers market to shill out plant sale brochures for our program.

After the farmers market we rallied again to participate in a day long celebration to raise money for the tent cabins which will replace the time tested and apprentice approved tents. On the menu was home made pizza, locally produced beer, and a little more bluegrass jam to spread evenly over the party which added a certain hint of locality and joviality.

So here I am minding me own on a Lazy sunday afternoon writing in preparation for my upcoming trip to Minnesota on the 16th of May fundraiser and seeing my potential veterans farm.....OH MY GOD!!!!

I just took a call, the Farmer Veteran Coalition was donated $130,00!!!!! Oh my, Oh my, Oh my!!!

Okay, gotta go, I"ll write more about this one very soon!!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

4-19-09 Surfs Up Wayfarers

One week deep into training, my journey begins with thirty nine fellow apprentices/future friends.

I am eye balls deep in manure, literally, and I love it.

The past week has been a unique opportunity to spend time and meet with many like minded young professionals trying to make their own way within the food industry.

Many are farmers, some are writers, a couple are chefs, but most commonly have incredible experiences and global educations dedicated towards making the world a little greener and tastier for its inhabitants.

Santa Cruz's environment is embraced by a cool Mediterranean climate which potentials towards extended growing seasons, but water restrictions and fungal pressures keep this location from morphing into the garden of Eden it could be. Many within the community embrace local food production which adds a flavor of community but unfortunately falls short on sustainability in respect to the perimeters of sustainable living.

The male population of Santa Cruz work a range of jobs, but remain surfers mainly, but jacks of all trades none the less. The female population of Santa Cruz are professional, tanned, and thoroughly enjoy beaches and time to themselves during surf season.

In respect to my first week it was really good, but sorry this week seems to be looking even better. We begin classes, field work, as well as the whole organic vegetarian locally produced enchilada!

Today I made hamburgers "Nigerien Style" minus all the flies and larvae, very tasty!

Well there is so much more I could write about but…..I don't feel like it.

I just wanted to surface, say hello, and remind you that packets of Gatorade, tuna, and beef jerky would be as appreciated as they were in Niger.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Moving to Santa Cruz, 4-10 good buddies

Breaker! Breaker! What's your 20? Over!

Well, after a few wonderful months back in Virginia, 20+ acres of vineyard pruning, mandolin playing, rigorously training and studying in preparation for farm season, 2 New Jersey trips, 1 trip to Capital Hill, numerous meetings, discussions, outreach, and many memorable moments gained with my very lovely one.

Its time to go.

UC Santa Cruz Farm School is over a year and half in the making, and will last six months. Tomorrow I'm once again on the move. After the program Cathy and I are working on a deal to erect a Veterans Village in Sauk Centre Minnesota.

I will manage vegetable farming, field crops, and animals. Cat will manage green houses, flower production, and specialty crops. In essence we want to create a community enriched by agriculture, where food is grown from door step to field, and our community as well as neighbors will have a sustainable local food source.

Pruning for these last few months has given me ample time to digest the last two years of my life. "my omnivores odyssey" if you will.

Niger was the height of thirty years of life coming full circle. Since childhood my dream was to move into the African Bush and simply live. I can't explain it but this goal has always given me purpose in how I strangely move through life.

Niger was the culmination of this life achievement, but also the starting place for the next journey of my life. To become the farmer my villages taught me to be.

To become a farmer, and working with veterans is a merging of two parts of my adult life. The military and the Peace Corps. Each experiences drastically altered my perceptions of the world and impacted my life profoundly.

Leaving for this new journey I am once again nearly penniless and moving to a new place with literally nearly everything I own packable enough to ride on an airplane.

Being without money seldom worries me, I learned over the last two years that there are worst positions to be in, being without resourcefulness is one of them.

During the financial meltdown many kinds of folk from all types of classes are having to relearn how to live again. I think a possible solution to this equation is getting back to the roots (literally) and grow food.

The business of food and the structure of community has largely been eroded from our lifestyles. Food is more that sustenance, it is about people, building community, relationships, and learning how to care for our world.

Though I have lost nothing in the crises, my life has had everything to gain. Traveling has given me ample opportunity to observe, and learn how to create, not destroy.

Ultimately the greatest contrast between my Army and Peace Corps experiences.
I am exactly at the place and time I should be in.

As you can see over the last few months the blog has been neglected and my writing has waned for a short spell. Preparations for farm school also met ducking out of the world for a while to gather my thoughts and digest my experiences.

But this new journey now means recommitting to the little people…..

Y'all, my readers. I'll do my best to keep up on the goings on's

Thanks you all for the support, taking the time to read my blog, and most importantly many of our friendships.

Love Wastefully, 4-10! Over and Out!!

Josh the Farmer

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"All Things Considered"....A good day for the FVC!

Thanks to Cathryn for sending me an email about NPR wanting to connect with people changing careers into Agriculture.

I wrote a member of NPR's show "All Things Considered" spoke of our project and our vision for veterans villages, and post war reconciliation and the result was them following up with the Farmer Veterans Coalition and running a story about the project and interviewing one of our veterans in San Diego currently managing a farm and training other vets.

It really was nothing more than hello...poof!

This is why our government needs to continue funding our public radio and television stations.

Public media is a major contributor to accurate information, entertainment, but most importantly painting a mental picture for private citizens to conceptualize events in our own backyard and global community.

Last night after listening to Barrack Obama and him hinting this week that a definite plan for pulling troops out by late 2010 from Iraq is very real. My mind has been racing, there is no time to waste, thousands of young vets will be coming home.

Also sobering is the fact that roughly two million citizens are now military veterans who have served in Iraq total.

When they come home they are going to need opportunities, as well as places to decompress.

Why not retrain young veterans with years of experience beyond their age to become community farm mentors in local communities. Many of these young folk need viable job skills, but already possess leadership, and a determination to set the example for others to follow in public service.

There is my rant, I am wiped out from my New Jersey and Virginia Tech trip, but I am going to go work out now.

Its farm season, one must be in shape.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Virginia Tech is Kind of "Hokie" Place

So Cat' and I drove to Blacksburg VA about 2-1/2 hours south of Charlottesville. Last night we drove about 7 hours from New Jersey after attending festivities for her sisters wedding engagement party.

Today my lovely one was invited to give a presentation for the Virginia Tech Horticultural students and faculty talking about her international experience as an agriculture extension agent working in Niger, Egypt, Central Asia, and Nepal.

She knocked it out of the park and I'm very proud of her.

Prior to the event I met some awesome horticulturalist who have been all over the world collecting specimens, establishing farmers markets, and teaching.

I made a possible connection today and will hopefully meet with a gentleman who is working developing the cause of reconciliation and agriculture. Though we have not met, apparently he began this course in his life after his wife was tragically slain during last years Virginia Tech shootings.

I firmly believe this crazy notion that we can create mutual understanding between warring cultures by working together and breaking bread over mutually created food.

Tomorrow is one baby step closer to learning how to initiate this process.

All is well, keep on keep'n on folks.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Yankee Doodle Has A New Feather in His Cap

Today was the first day for the rest of the year for me.

These were my thoughts holding a pair of pruning shears, a well known well worn institution of hand tools. Felco's, I'm going to either love or hate the son of a bitches.

I started a new job at a vineyard called Keswick Vineyards near Charlottesville Virginia. They took six Virginia Wine Governor Cups last year.

Speaking with My grandma today, I spoke with her about my work, and mindlessly spoke "Grandma, a farmer needs more than know how to only raise hogs, or plant a row of beans." She comes from a long line of life long farmers.
(not taking away from their noble work **pig-bean farmers**)

But I was relating this more towards a much more needed trend in agriculture where farmers are needed desperately to diversify talents, learn new techniques, and broaden the production of farms into a poly-cultured landscapes.

Until I leave for Santa Cruz in April, my duty will be to prune twenty acres of gnarly vines in a vineyard, learn production, and hopefully establish a place to send veterans to for the Farmer Veterans Coalition.

Twenty Acres. By hand.

Fun, Sun, and weather from here on out.

Just like my farm in Niger.
Many Blessings to my village in Niger, The Noble Dan Saga,they prepared me well.

(My name in Niger/My alter farmer ego)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Readjustment, work, life....whole lotta love

Greetings everyone

Its been irritating not writing,I've been busy since returning from Charlottesville. I"ve been helping a mushroom farmer out part time, looking for work, and trying to spread the FVC love out here.

Last weekend I attended a local farmers meeting about throwing some vets into their internships, and then met with the local VA rep about finding me work, and hopefully some other guys also. Despite being in Dixie, the economy has gone south here as well, many people are out of work or seriously concerned about their lot.

I recieved good news today, with the assistance of a local agriculture extension agent who knows Cat', he arranged for a possible job.

Today I called them, told them about Africa, the FVC, and my need for work for a couple months before I begin the Santa Cruz apprenticeship. They said, come on out!

It called The Keswick Vineyard, its a beautiful place that was once the pioneer front....IN the mid 18th century!!

check out the place. I don't know exactly what all kinds of work I'll be doing, certainly part of it will be pruning.


Okay, that about wraps it up, I'll have a couple more post soon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

An Article about the FVC in American Fruit-Vegetable Grower

Hi guys, this is us. This is the latest article written about our work. Many more things are planned to spread our seed. Documentaries, a book, more news, we were interviewed by NPR at our last dinner. There are more articles being written as we speak.

Growers Helping Vets
Group aids combat veterans by getting them into farming.
By David Eddy
Senior Western Editor
February 2009

Longtime vegetable grower Michael O’Gorman got into a discussion with some fellow growers last year at a Northern California strawberry farm about how they might be able to assist veterans returning home from the war by helping them get into farming. It would be a win-win, they figured, because not only could they aid the veterans in leading productive lives, but they’d also be doing something for the future of agriculture.

“There are really high rates of unemployment among these young people, even before the recession,” says O’Gorman, who’s the production manager of Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, supervising 1,600 acres of organic vegetables in north Baja, Mexico. “Also, not a lot of young people are going into agriculture. We look at them (veterans) as future farmers.”

And so in May 2007 the Farmer-Veteran Coalition was formed, with O’Gorman serving as project director. O’Gorman emphasizes that the group has no political agenda, and takes no stance on the war one way or the other. In addition, he says it is not about giving hand-outs. “We don’t have anything to hand out,” he says. “It’s more about mentoring.”

Place For Healing

At their first meetings, they attracted not only interested growers — including several Sonoma County, CA, winegrape growers — but three women who lost sons in Iraq or Afghanistan. One of the women was Mary Tillman, the mother of Pat Tillman, who left a lucrative career as an NFL player to join the Army after 9/11. The women thought the Farmer-Veteran Coalition might help veterans who faced combat deal with their experiences, says O’Gorman, providing a place for healing.

“A lot of guys who’ve been in war talk about the psychological aspects of farming, about working with something that’s alive and positive,” he says. “A lot of people find that after the war experience there is something therapeutic in farming.”

But make no mistake, while the coalition does work with veterans’ groups and direct vets there for counseling, it’s all about getting energetic young people into agriculture. “We’re finding people who want a challenge, and farming is a natural fit because it requires a certain level of commitment — as we all know, farming is not an easy way to make a living,” he says. “But we’re letting them know that there’s a future in our industry, because no matter what happens, people are going to keep eating.”

Seed Planted In Iraq

O’Gorman says they’ve recently started hearing from active duty troops who’ve read about the coalition in publications such as Army Times, and want to know how they can get started in agriculture. One veteran, Matthew McCue, says he got the idea to get into farming while serving as an Infantry Team Leader in Iraq a few years ago. “I saw a lot of real interesting agriculture — people who would drive by checkpoints with truckloads of pomegranates,” he says. “I made my way through a lot of chicken coops looking for weapons and so forth.”

McCue, who grew up in the suburbs of Albuquerque, NM, and previously hadn’t given agriculture a second thought, realizes it might seem odd that his experience in Iraq would interest him in farming. But he says he now needs a profession that’s demanding. And with the heavy equipment training he received in the Army, he understands tractors. “Also, I’m organized, committed, and dedicated, skills that transfer from the military.”

After getting in touch with O’Gorman, who served as his mentor, McCue managed a farm that provided vegetables for a restaurant, French Garden, in Sebastopol, CA, as well as farmers markets. Now that he has some experience under his belt, he plans to strike out on his own. McCue is looking for land to lease in northern California, where he plans to grow vegetables for a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) business, delivering vegetables directly to consumers. “The demand is just wide open for CSA boxes because people want better quality and to try new things,” he says. “Also, with the economic turmoil, people are more likely to eat in.”

McCue started thinking about such a direct relationship between the consumer and the grower in Iraq. Even in dangerous war-torn areas, farmers markets would open at sunrise each morning. “Agriculture is historically the most stable part of their economy, but farming’s at the heart of this country too,” he says. “A successful society is one that takes care of its farmers.” And, some might add, its veterans.

To find out more about the Farmer-Veteran Coalition, check out their website,
or call 707-981-801

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Lessons learned

Its about 1130 just returned from a awesome night at our foreign cinema event.
Here was the lessons learned.

Never have expectations for heroes
Always eat good food when you can
If all else fails, do something you believe in

Matt and I jammed, people liked it, we interviewed with NPR, worked out the beginning stages of a book we are going to write, rolled the first footage of a documentary, made excellent connections for ourselves, and for others.

A success.

Country Joe was there….and he left.
Read my letter, never responded, asked about playing, he said. I don't do that.
I expected him to be a man who wants to pass down his music instead of keeping it to himself.
You know teach others.

The foreign cinema is a place to die and go to food heaven, the entire staff was efficient, joyful, and friendly. The chef, John, works magic with the fixins, every bite was….mmmmm....I should say no more.

The key to our events is that we put everyone on the same common place. The dinner table. These connections are made by sharing the bounty of our wonderful planet, and working with each other for a common purpose. More food.

Tonight I realized that beyond all my travels, the core of my determination is to at all cost do what you love. It might not always take you down the easiest path. But it will be the most rewarding.

Claudia Munoz, and Joey Braccio from Peace Corps Niger were in attendance. Really our night is about honoring those who serve. Either in combat, or as an ambassador of our culture, each share their risks, we all devote a portion of our lives in service to our dynamic country.

Some in the crowd served in the front lines of combat
Some served in the front lines of combating hunger
All in attendance are manning the front lines of positive change.

Country Joe.
Ah, Barty Crawford and all of those along my path of learning music are my teachers.

Food, fuels
Love wastefully.

a Four star Evening

Plummeting further down the rabbit hole, yesterday Matt, Michael and I, hit a home run but moving closer to obtaining our fiscal sponsorship, and we had a meeting with the backers to start a veterans village in Minnesota.

At this site, it is a very real possibility that your truly could end up. Its a location where we will begin a veterans community that can not only economically sustain itself with agricultural enterprises, but teach others.

check out the campus on the vets village webpage.

Within a few moments Michael and I are heading into the heart of San Francisco to hold our fundraiser dinner at the foreign cinema restaurant.

At this event we are collecting the leaders in agriculture, food industries professionals, along with food policy educators. I hope they like the farmer veterans we have amassed, we really have a diverse grouping of guys.

The chefs have been donated a wide variety of quality wines, as well as all the fresh seafood, vegetables, and meats they could ever want. The prestigious Marina Market has supported our event by giving a blank check and virtual access to its cupboards for this event.

This will likely be the best meal I have had in years, and possibly for quite some time.

time to roll, take care,
enjoy your chef boyardee, I have my own chefs....for tonight anyways.

the wayfarer way.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A letter by James Howard Kunstler

Here you go guys, another call for stepping up agriculture.
this article was sent to me by our webmasater for the FVC enjoy.

The "change" we face in agriculture dwarfs even the death throes of Happy Motoring (and is not unrelated to it either).

A lot of people are likely to starve in America if we don't get our act together pronto in terms of how we produce the food we eat. Petro-agribusiness faces a set of disturbances that are certain to induce food shortages. Again, the Peak Oil specter looms in the background, for soil "inputs" and diesel power to run that system. But all of a sudden even that problem appears a lesser danger than the gross failure of capital finance now underway -- and petro-agriculture's chief external input is credit.

Credit may be in extremely short supply this year, and hence crops may be in short supply as we turn the corner into spring and summer. Just as in the case of WalMart versus Main Street, the reform of farming in America is one of those "changes" much larger than most of us imagine.

I'd go so far to say that a large proportion of young people now in college will find themselves not working in office cubicles, but in some way or other in farming or the "value-added" activities connected to it.

A New York Times Op-ed Piece

The author of this op-ed piece is a veteran we were connected to from Daniel Ellsberg (leaked the pentagon papers).

This year Tyler will be embarking on a cross country bicycle trip to raise awareness for veterans services and discussing the broader war on terror from soldiers perspectives. I highly recommend visiting his site.

we are hoping to support Tyler in some means during his trip, if would like to participate or contribute feel free to contact myself or Tyler.

THE Pentagon’s recent decision not to award the Purple Heart to veterans and soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress has caused great controversy. Historically, the medal has gone only to those who have been physically wounded on the battlefield as a result of enemy action. But with approximately one-third of veterans dealing with symptoms of combat stress or major depression, many Americans are disappointed with the Pentagon’s decision; many more are downright appalled. As a former Marine infantry officer and Iraq war veteran, I would urge the Pentagon to consider a different solution altogether.

First, let me say that both sides of the Purple Heart debate have expressed some reasonable concerns. Those who believe that the Purple Heart should be reserved strictly for the physically wounded hold a more traditional sense of the battlefield in which wounds are bloody and undeniable. The gashes of war carry an irrevocable purity that tends to make the issue concrete and uncomplicated.

And yet there have been complications. During the 2004 presidential election, John Kerry’s Purple Hearts, awarded for his service in Vietnam, were labeled by his opponents “purple owies” because the wounds he suffered were not considered dire enough. It was a petty episode, to be sure, but it demonstrated the disparate views of this medal. In the interests of guarding the nobility of the Purple Heart, many service members, including me, have suggested that not every last physical wound merits a decoration.

When I was in Iraq, the most common wound behind the many Purple Hearts we awarded was the “perforated eardrum,” an eardrum punctured by the concussion of a nearby explosion. In the vast majority of cases, no blood was ever shed. Seldom did these marines ever miss a day of full duty. And yet they were all awarded the coveted medal.

Admittedly, I was dubious about the “recognition” of these and other lesser wounds; I felt that in a way they subverted the obvious intent of the Purple Heart — honoring soldiers who have been seriously hurt. But where to draw the line? Perhaps it should be awarded only to those who required admittance into a combat support hospital. “The Purple Heart deserves at least one night out of action,” I argued at the time. But my own commander stood fast by the rules, affirming: “A combat wound is a combat wound, no matter how small. So they get the medal.”

A year later, back at Camp Lejeune, N.C., I was making calls to the families of wounded marines — a difficult duty even when the wounds were minor. But I noticed during that time that I never once made a call to a family about a marine’s psychological wounds. I never got a casualty report for post-traumatic stress, despite the rising number of veteran suicides. Never once.

Why, I asked myself, if a combat wound is a combat wound no matter how small, shouldn’t those people suffering from the “invisible wounds” of post-traumatic stress also receive the Purple Heart? Difficulty of diagnosis is one of the central justifications the Pentagon has given, citing the concern that fakers will tarnish the medal’s image. Spilt blood cannot be faked.

But this seems an unconvincing argument not to honor those who actually do suffer from post-traumatic stress. For example, the possibility of fakers has not prevented the Department of Veterans Affairs from awarding disability payments to service members who have received a diagnosis. Why should the military itself be different?

The distinction, I suspect, lies in the deep-seated attitude toward psychological wounds. It is still difficult for many members of the military to truly believe that post-traumatic stress is, in fact, an injury and not the result of a weak or dysfunctional brain. The same culture that demands tough-mindedness also encourages skepticism toward the suggestion that the violence of war can hurt the healthiest of minds.

Still, almost all service members agree that veterans suffering from confirmed cases of post-traumatic stress should be cared for. The reality of psychological wounds is becoming harder and harder to deny. That post-traumatic stress can lead to suicide is no longer in question. That far too many of those returning from combat experience deep and long-lasting devastation is irrefutable.

So why not recognize the struggles of these many individuals with a medal? Why, for instance, if a veteran has been given a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress and awarded benefits, should he not also be awarded a Purple Heart? Sadly, as long as our military culture bears at least a quiet contempt for the psychological wounds of war, it is unlikely those veterans will ever see a Purple Heart. That is too bad, I think, because they do deserve all the honor the physically wounded receive.

But there may be another solution — perhaps a new decoration, a new medal, could be established specifically for those suffering from post-traumatic stress. It would be awarded to those whose minds and souls have been sundered by war.

I urge General Eric Shinseki, the new head of Veterans Affairs and former Army Chief of Staff, to work hand in hand with the Defense Department to bring about some form of official recognition for these wounded veterans. The current stigma of post-traumatic stress would likely prevent many soldiers from wearing the medal initially, but its mere existence would help crystallize in the American — and the American military — consciousness one of the more obscure human costs of war.

I suggest we call this medal the Black Heart. Certainly the hearts of these soldiers are black, with the terrible things they saw and did on the battlefield. Certainly the country should see these Black Hearts pinned on their chests.

Tyler E. Boudreau, a former Marine captain, is the author of “Packing Inferno: The Unmaking of a Marine.”

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Meeting a new Veteran

Hi guys this is something my boss wrote after we recently met another of our vets for the first time. The veteran adam, is a remarkable young man, he really emphasises the quality of people we are taking on.

We left Mexico that day at 1030, we arrived in Berkeley at 0100.
that's how we roll.

Meeting Adam Burke

Yesterday Army Vet turned farmer Josh Anderson and I left the 85 degree weather of Maneadero, Mexico, near Del Cabo’s packing facility and drove up to Hesperia, in the high desert East of Los Angeles. We climbed up to about 4000 feet elevation, and the temperatures dropped and the wind picked up. The higher mountains were covered with snow.

We went to meet Adam Burke, a young Iraq Army vet who wants to farm blueberries where he grew up in Central Florida. Adam got hit by mortar shrapnel in the Sunni Triangle in 2004, two weeks before he was to get out. Adam’s group was hunting down Saddam Hussein’s sons.

“Did you see them?” I asked. “After they were dead,” he said.

Adam is an athletic looking young man with an endearing smile, but walks with a cane. He has trouble bending over.

“I was the first person in my family to NOT go directly into farming,” Adam said. “I spent all my childhood having to pick vegetables, and didn’t want to do it anymore. I’d give anything to be able to pick right now.”

Adam has put together a well researched crop plan, marketing plan and business plan. He wants to put two year old berry plants into 30 gallon containers, using pine bark and azalea fertilizer. He wants to plant early yielding high-bush plants. “I want to hire other vets,” he said. “This way my friends can pick, even if they lost their legs, or have just one arm.”

Adam’s wife, Michelle, grew up in a farming family, too. Now she’s a traveling pediatric nurse and they travel the country helping out at understaffed hospitals. They were going to leave California on Saturday but asked to stay into April so they could connect more with the Farmer-Veteran Coalition. We want to make Adam’s dream of farming a reality

Farmer-Veteran Coalition